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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In the middle of the storm

God is our shelter and our strength.  When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help.  So why run and hide?  No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails.  When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless. When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless.  Even in heavy winds and huge waves, or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless. (Psalm 46:1-3 VOICE)

It is the time of year we call "monsoon season" in Arizona and with that comes high winds, lots and lots of blowing dust, sometimes even flash floods, but generally a whole lot of "bluster" without much rain to speak of in my neighborhood.  It seems to blow before we see any promise of rain, though. With the "outflow" of these big storms come this rolling dust storm you can see for miles and it almost darkens the sky as it passes over your area.  We call these dust storms "haboobs" - miles and miles of dust carried on the "current" of the moving storm.  Sometimes there are torrential rains right after it passes because those rains are "pushing" that dust out as they come in.  I have been caught a time or two on the roads when these occur, leaving no other choice than to pull off and ride it out because the visibility cuts down to nearly zero at times.  You can just hear the sand pelting the sides of your car and the strong gusts can even rock you. If storms in the realm of nature can leave us stranded, unable to move, without any signs of awareness of what surrounds us, and just "rocking" a little, how much more can those things which assail us emotionally, spiritually, and even physically?

I love this psalm of Korah, the worship leader in the house of God during King David's time.  It speaks of storms - of things spinning out of our control - and the question to all of us is clear - why do we run and hide from them?  I love how he reminds us right off as he begins to lay out this psalm that trouble may very well be near, cutting off all signs of clarity in our path, but God is nearer. You know why a blind person has a seeing-eyed dog?  It is to have "eyes" when the natural eye has failed!  I am not saying God is our "seeing-eyed dog", but you get the idea.  He is able to perceive what we cannot and if that is the case, then why is it we fear what we cannot see?  Won't he still protect us from harm in spite of our "not seeing"?  He is ready to help...nearer than anything which attempts to rock our world, cut us off in our path, or darkens our horizon. 

What a picture of emotional composure Korah wants us to see - no fingernail biting, no pacing back and forth, no trying to find some place to hide to "ride it out".  This "composure" doesn't come naturally to any of us - it comes because of the one who is nearer than the storm!  Sure and fearless - this is our "stand" when we begin to sense the presence of God as nearer than any "outflow" life sends our way!  I have to ask us to stop for just a moment and really examine our lives at present.  When we do, we may just realize we have pulled over, are attempting to "ride out" on of life's storms, and are more than a little disoriented because our "vision" has been cut off all around us.  We may not be able to see beyond the nose on our face, but we don't need to see Jesus to know he is there!  We only need to trust he is nearer than the storm.

Go back to the first part of this passage again - when troubles SEEM near, God is nearer.  A lot of things SEEM one way, but the truth we need to hold onto is that God is nearer than anything else in our lives - ready to help, holding us secure, and keeping us from being consumed by the storm.  When something SEEMS one way, it is quite possible what SEEMS to be one way may actually be a figment of our imagination - because imagination can blow things out of proportion quicker than reality and faith can sometimes invade the same space! We can "spin" the hype of the storm oftentimes quicker than we can lean into the arms of the one who is even nearer than the storm!  When you are sitting smack-dab in the middle of the haboob, no one can tell you to just be calm - for all around you is the feeling of impending doom.  You don't see anyway out. This is where God never fails us - he is high above the storm, knowing full-well how things will be "after" it passes. In the midst of the storm, we can only see the storm.  When you see as God sees, you know the length and breadth of the storm, and the majesty of the light just about to break through that layer of heavy cloud!  Just sayin!